|Guan Qian Rong (官乾荣)|
The large Guan family had its own family laws to ensure its future. The first rule for an individual was to never marry into a family sharing the same family name; marrying cousins was very common back then. Never beat your father or grandfather; never disrespect your older sister. Never commit adultery/rape (men could have as many wives as they could afford). Never steal from others. Both learning to farm and going to school were equally important. It called “耕读传家” also one of Hakka tradition, which means passing on Farming and Education .
Punishment ranged from kneeling for hours inside, then outside of the complex as minor punishments, then caning, and expulsion. Those kicked out from the Guan families were never able to come back and the most severe punishment was death. There was one instance of capital punishment in Guan history in the fortress. No name was recorded, the perpetrator’s nickname was “Old Bear.” He was shot between 1912-1945.” It said he was a shame to the Guan family, nothing more.
There was another one who did not take the family’s arranged marriage, and ran away with his lover. He is about 80 year old now and never returned. In 1950, during the Communist land reform, one Guan member brought others to dig up one of Guan’s ancestor tombs. He was expelled from the Guan family, only recently, after he donated a lot of money, did the ruling members vote to let him back into the group. In the 1980s, one Guan family’s grandfather committed suicide, because his son did not take good care of him; the son and his wife had to kneel on the ground on the street for hours, while the rest of the family and locals scolded them.
I certainly had my punishment already when I was five or six years old after stealing my uncle’s money for candy. That was only time I had to kneel on the ground and received a beating in front of everyone, which I will never forget.
There was another Guan whose real name no one knew, but his nickname was “European Dog.” When he was little, he broke every one of his dishes after he ate just for fun. When he was older, he only ate the young chickens before they laid eggs. He never saved his money and used up everything he had. Fun was always more important for him. After his father passed away, he used up his inheritance in no time. In this way, he started his life as a vagabond begging and stayed at the temple at night. He was very intelligent and well-educated. One day, a wealthy man passing the temple noticed his writing on the wall (日食千家饭 夜宿破庙亭 不做为非事, 快活一世人), which means meals from thousands of homes, sleep in the broken temple, never do a bad thing, joy all lifelong. He hired him home as teacher for his children; he only stayed around ten days, before returning to his free, wandering life until he died.
There were three branches representing the top (ancestors’ house/shrine) for all Guans founded in 1442, oldest, rich, and powerful (usually the first wife and their children); middle (second wife and their children); and bottom (3rd, 4th wives and their children). It usually consisted of thirty-five members’ control over each area. Each family’s income and expenses were open to all family members, so no one thought they were unfairly treated.
The top rule was that Guan families should never sell their land or business to outsiders. If for some reason one Guan family had to sell their land, the others should try to buy it first. If this was not possible, their ancestor hall for all Guans would purchase the land using the public’s money and rent it back to the seller or just put the family on welfare if they were unable to work. Guan family members were encouraged to expand and explore outside of their land, but had to always remember to contribute to their ancestor’s hall for the benefit of all Guans.
One hundred and fifty years have gone by and the complex is still in excellent condition without even one crack. Far away from big cities, it has always been a refuge for the Guan family in hard times.
|This boat house located near Mt. Wuyi|
The Secret Guan Fortress (神秘的官家围楼).
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